When the NBA announced All-Star reserves Thursday night, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker found his name on the list, an accomplishment that pushes him further into rarified air in Spurs history.
“It will be a great reward for my team and the whole Spurs organization,” Parker said.
However Tim Duncan, for the first time in his career, did not make the All-Star team. His omission not only snaps a string of 13 consecutive appearances, it ends a streak of 12 consecutive starts that was the longest in NBA history.
Only Bob Cousy (13) had a longer one.
By rule, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich could not vote for his own players while casting a ballot for the reserves, but he offered Parker a heavy endorsement in recent weeks.
With Manu Ginobili out with a broken hand since January 2, Parker has lifted his game – and helped the Spurs to the second-best record in the West (18-9).
Heading into Saturday’s game at New Jersey, Parker is averaging 18.9 points and a career-best 7.7 assists.
Since the beginning of January, when Ginobili was hurt, those averages have improved to 19.8 points and 7.9 assists.
“Tony’s played All-Star basketball all year long,” Popovich said. “We’ve needed him to be a scorer the whole time Manu’s been out. He scores, he assists, he’s been leading us out there. He’s been really special.”
Other reserves selected to the Western Division team Thursday night by the conference’s coaches include Kevin Love of Minnesota, LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland, Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas, Steve Nash of Phoenix and Marc Gasol of Memphis.
Duncan was probably left out because he is currently averaging career lows of 13.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 27 minutes per game.
Nonetheless, the Big Fundamental has lifted his game too in Ginobili’s absence. He has registered his third consecutive double-double in Wednesday’s victory over the 76ers.